Did Tutankhamun have an elongated skull? Was head binding a thing in Ancient Egypt? If so, why?
The above picture is a hyper-realistic reconstruction of the famous boy king. Many people have asked these head binding questions. And of course, the answer isn’t exactly straight forward.
During the 18th Dynasty of ancient Egypt, there was a sudden change in art style. The larger than life aesthetic was suddenly thrown out and a more realistic representation was brought in.
Beginning with Pharaoh Akhenaten, he radically changed the appearance of himself in art, busts and reliefs. Was this due to his personal preference and his unique religion? Or was it more of an accurate representation of how he actually looked?
Akhenaten’s skull has a decidedly ‘flat’ top. Some scholars say this is evidence of artificial deformation. A deliberate procedure of ‘blinding’ the head with material to reshape the skull. This is of course not agreed upon as there is no written recording of skull binding in Egypt - at all.
But, the argument for this lack of written binding is as follows: If you want to show your prowess as an all mighty pharaoh who is all-knowing and all-seeing, you don’t publicise the fact that you are artificially shaping your head.
You do it in secret.
Now, Tut’s skull is certainly more elongated than his father, Akhenaten’s. It is flatter on top and generally longer. Was Tut’s skull artificially elongated from birth? Or is it simply a result of familial incest?
There is some evidence of flat skulls thousands of years after Tutankhamun’s death, so head binding popped up from time to time in separate points in Egyptian history.
However, when Tutankhamun died, the pharaohs that followed didn’t represent themselves with elongated skulls and there is no actual evidence in the form of misshaped skulls to conclude the practice continued.